Is Marijuana Addictive?

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If you plug “marijuana addiction” into your Internet browser, the links that show up on the first page will likely contradict each other.  One link might read, “marijuana addiction is a scary talking point for the prohibitionists clinging to their jobs against the growing wave of marijuana legalization,” while another might state simply, “Yes, marijuana can be addictive.”  And then there are those that will walk the line with something like, “marijuana is not nearly as addictive as heroin or cocaine.”

The Addictive Properties of Marijuana and THC

The National Institute on Drug Abuse claims that 1 in 11 marijuana users become addicted.  This number increases to 1 in 6 (17 percent) for users who start in their teens and to 25 to 50 percent for those who use marijuana daily.  Marijuana advocates downplay these numbers by arguing about the semantics of addiction versus dependence versus abuse and so on.  They like to talk about the “rarity” of marijuana addiction (how few people they believe are actually addicted). But no matter how much they argue about numbers, a little research can go a long way in highlighting the existence of marijuana addiction.

Merriam-Webster defines addiction as “the strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble).”

Marijuana addiction is very real, and it affects the lives of millions of people every day.

Call it what you want. It’s still an addiction.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in the past year, 4.2 million people ages 12 and up met criteria for a substance use disorder based on their marijuana use. Some symptoms of cannabis use disorder include:

  • Disruptions in functioning due to cannabis use
  • Development of tolerance
  • Cravings for cannabis
  • Development of withdrawal symptoms within a week of ceasing heavy use
    • Inability to sleep
    • Restlessness
    • Nervousness
    • Anger
    • Depression

Millions of people who experience the symptoms listed above continue to use marijuana, despite the trouble it causes with their work, relationships, and health.

Get Help With Addiction Treatment for Marijuana

Terms like “dependence” and “addiction” are sometimes used interchangeably, and they do have their specific meanings. But for someone who tries and fails to control their marijuana use, or who continues to use it despite the problems it causes in their life, the message is very clear.

Getting help is the only thing that can make a difference.